FRINGE – DNA – Channel 9 Kevin Crease Studios – 2.5K

Under the direction of Charlaina Thompson, a young group of girls come together to present a play focusing on several topics pertinent to today’s youth: friendship, love, bullying, guilt, peer pressure, responsibility, fear, etc. DNA will be of interest to school groups as an exploration of these issues and how they are presented in theatre.

This is the story of a hazing ritual gone awry and the characters’ subsequent attempts to cover it up. It shows the power dynamics at play amongst the group, which lead to a spiral of bad decisions and progressively more serious potential consequences. Though their inexperience shows in several areas, the cast all do a reasonable job in their roles. Each seems comfortable on stage, knows how to present to the audience and together they manage to fill the large stage space with energy. However, more focus needs to be put on ensuring that cues are hit on time so that the dialogue is more naturalistic and the punchy, manic strength of the text comes through.

Physical movement/dance pieces (choreography by Craig McCardle) are scattered throughout the performance. These provide some interesting divisions between what could be considered the separate “acts” of the play. The fairly neutral staging, in conjunction with digital projection, creates an adaptable, agreeable set; though it could have done without the half painted fake tree.

Thompson has adapted the original script by Dennis Kelly (probably best known for his recent collaboration on Matilda the Musical with Tim Minchin) to be performed by an all-female cast. This has two effects on the play in that the dynamics of the groups become very different and some of the characters simply didn’t ring true as females. In its present iteration it is somewhat like a Crucible of the modern age, as the girls look to their manipulative leader for direction and, as a group, make decisions which will have an immense, serious impact on the lives of others.

This production is a formidable effort from such a young cast, who will no doubt grow from the experience of performing in a Fringe Festival. As a piece of theatre it will be of most interest to those in the demographic that it portrays.

Kryztoff Rating: 2.5K

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